2006-01-25 1125 Review: == A Night at the Opera == (With apologies for a predictable post title) I've been using my . . .

A Night at the Opera

(With apologies for a predictable post title)

I’ve been using my XP box for a while now because Henry, the little Linux Box That Could has developed an annoyingly headache-inducing fan rattle. It’s the kind of noise that sounds more like a bone-saw than a little plastic computer component. Until I get a replacement fan, Henry is spending more time off than on right now.

Which means I’m enduring XP on my other box, lovingly named Wildcat. While it has got a Linux partition, it stays in XP most of the time because…..
– cut –

  • It contains a couple of extra hard drives which we use for network file storage. They are formated as NTFS and Linux read/write (via Captive) isn’t quite stable enough to trust.
  • The DSL modem and connection sharing goes through this XP box. Insecure and nightmarish, but it works.
  • The our HP all-in-one printer is shared though the XP box. While the drivers are typicial 500Mb+ HP stupid over the top operating-system in their own right, they do work (mostly)
  • It plays Sims 2

All stuff I could fix at some point and make this a 100% Linux box as well, just as nature intended, but in the meantime it stays as it is.

I’ve tried to make the experience as pleasurable as possible. I’ve been using Firefox + Thunderbird for my browsing, RSS and mail more out of habit than anything else.

Finally, I’ve seen the light though, and moved back to Opera.

It’s not that Firefox is bad. It’s a thousand times better than the evil insecure broken hellspawn that is IE6. Firefox is just such a memory hog. I tend to have six or more tabs open when browsing. Add in Thunderbird to the mix and general netsurfing is taking up over 150Mb of memory!! This for stuff that is still primarily plain text. C’mon guys, get real!!

XP itself takes up the bulk of the rest. Forget using Photoshop CS 2 at the same time. I also have a habit of leaving the browser open overnight. Eight hours later and Firefox has memory leaked like crazy and the computer is locked in a swap file frenzy of it’s own making. Not good.

A move over to Opera means Web+RSS+Mail is handled as one consistent whole. While that goes against my old-school Unix one-program-one-task ethos, Opera handles it all so seamlessly I’ll forgive the philosophical faux par.

I like the way Opera works. I prefer the way that switching between tab using Ctrl-Tab alternates the most recently used tabs rather than cycling them in order as Firefox does (there’s an option to set this in Opera, should you wish). I like that zooming with Ctrl+scrollwheel scales both text and graphics, so the layout stays consistent. I like that the RSS reader can show all of the feeds meshed together by time. I like that Opera handles multiple mail accounts for both send and receive, while Thunderbird whines like a little girl.

In short – there’s a lot to like.

Most importantly of all – I like that Opera doesn’t suffer from the same memory leaks and handles just the same number of tabs, rss feeds and emails as Firefox, but instead of 150Mb of my memory gone, it takes up just 25Mb. Same (or better) functionality, 1/6th the memory footprint.

Think about it.

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